Monday, April 30, 2012

Sun and Sand

The other night, I was looking to relax with a drink. I was feeling something tiki influenced, perhaps something with the homemade grenadine. So naturally, I decided to make a variation on the Blood and Sand. Nothing says Polynesia like Scotch! To lighten it up a bit, I replaced the usual Cherry Heering with the grenadine. The number one thing I noticed about this drink? I should use fresh squeezed orange juice. The other is that, while the grenadine did lighten up the drink in comparison to the original, and added some floral notes, it's still a pretty heavy drink. Recipe after the jump.

Small Plates: 04.30.12

Boqueria started its new brunch over the weekend. [PoP]

Eater has a helpful guide to all of Neighborhood Restaurant Group's upcoming establishments. [Eater]

I'm not sure we really need a food truck dedicated to peanut butter and jelly. [Urban Daddy]

Shawafel, at 13th and H St NE, is launching a food truck in June. [PoP]

Friday, April 27, 2012

Small Plates: 04.27.12

Underground bar at St. Arnold's Cleveland Park.
The Hilton brothers are bringing yet another club to U St. [PoP]

Tim Carman tried Pepe's $20 sandwich. He doesn't think it's worth it. [WaPo]

Satellite Pizza is making progress in the building behind 9:30 Club. [PoP]

Chris Shott is drooling over the cheeseburger at Palena. [Young & Hungry]

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Meaty Issues at Runner's World

Runner's World has a article up about how eating various forms of red meat can be healthy. Apropos of my most recent dinner, here's their entry on dark meat chicken:
Too often, runners believe that the juicy meat found in chicken thighs, wings, and legs is off-limits. That's a myth. After all, a 3.5-ounce breast has 161 calories, while an equivalent portion of dark meat runs only 200 calories. Yes, dark meat has more fat (11 grams versus four grams in white), but fewer than four grams are saturated fat. Compared to bland breasts, flavor-packed dark meat is also higher in zinc and iron. Bottom line: If you love the taste, dark meat is a healthy way to add variety to your diet, says New Orleans-based sports dietitian Molly Kimball, R.D.
I enjoy red meat frequently, and I'm especially a fan of chicken thighs for their ease and flexibility. After all, fat is flavor. But I suspect the key is a balanced diet. Sure, eating a little bit of red meat here and there isn't going to kill you. But you gotta try to throw some fish and some vegetarian meals in there too.

Meaty Issues at Runner's World

Braised Chicken with Dates and Moroccan Spices

For some reason, when I started looking for a recipe to cook for dinner tonight, I had harissa on the brain. Probably because of the harissa spiked mussels my wife had at Bistro la Bonne last night. (They have a new mussel menu. You should go.) Searching for recipes involving harissa, I was tripped up by my desire to avoid red meat for once, especially after having spicy beef stew for lunch. There weren't that many chicken recipes that involve harissa, and most weren't braised. But I did find a recipe for braised chicken with "moroccan spices" and decided to go with that.

The recipe I ended up cooking involved a lot of substitutions. The grocery store was out of dates, so I threw in some raisins instead. I also wanted it to be a bit spicy, so I roasted some red chili peppers to saute with the shallots. I used veal stock to make it a bit richer. And I added some Urfa pepper flakes to give it a bit more smokiness and tie in the red chili peppers.

It turned out fairly well. It was definitely good, and the sauce had a nice savory/sweetness to it. But I was hoping for a bit more spicy/smokiness along with it, from the roasted peppers and the urfa. I have to say, thought, that while I normally don't like the vegetable medley that goes along with this sort of dish -- I often feel like once it's given it's flavor to the meat, it's done and should be discarded -- in this case, I ate it up. The shallots were just melt on the tongue delicious, and that counts for something.

Small Plates 04.26.12

Mise for Moroccan Chicken Thighs
Chris Shott is not impressed with Chez Billy. "The formula produces a reliably fashionable vibe, but unreliably delectable eats." [Young & Hungry]

Taste of Barracks Row is this Saturday. It's sold out three years in a row, so buy early. [PoP]

Urban Daddy has a post on infusing beer using a Randall. Their lead choice is chicken? [Urban Daddy]

There's a new BBQ place coming to Shaw near the O Street Market. [PoP]

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Small Plates: 04.25.12

Photo by NCinDC, from flickr.
Capital City Diner is headed to Union Market in NE. [WaPo]

Yum's Carryout closing; moving to 3300 Georgia. [PoP]

Chix, my favorite chicken place, will be expanding. [Eater]

Vento closes in Dupont Circle, rumor has it to be replaced with Tex-Mex. [PoP]

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Blue Laws; or, it's Sunday and I need a beer

Photo by Don Nunn, from flickr
From the Washington Post, Mike DeBonis reports on the latest proposal to ease moralistic blue laws in the District.
D.C. Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) said today he is likely to recommend allowing Sunday sales for holders of Class A (liquor store) licenses as part of the city budget. The additional $710,000 in sales tax revenue that would be generated by dropping the restriction would go some way toward the $3.2 million Graham needs to find to kill MayorVincent C. Gray’s proposal to extend bar hours as late as 4 a.m.
There's some criticism of this proposal on the grounds that it won't raise as much money as the proponents claim it will. I think that's beside the point. Blue laws like those restricting alcohol sales on Sunday are part of an outdated moralism about drinking. The law should be repealed, not because it might net DC additional revenue, but because it's a bad law. States that restrict alcohol sales on Sunday are down to a handful: Indiana, Connecticut, Minnesota, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. It's high time DC joined the 44 states that allow people to buy a perfectly legal product whatever day of the week it might happen to be.

h/t: Greater Greater Washington

Manhattan Montenegro

Recently at the liquor store, I saw on the top shelf a bottle of Amaro Montenegro. Being a big fan of all forms of amaro, I wanted to give it a shot. So I bought it and gave it a good home. By itself, it's pretty tasty; it tastes a bit like a less intense Fernet Branca. So I thought it would go great in a cocktail.

Eventually, I want to try it in a Negroni, but for my first foray into mixing it, I thought I'd try a Manhattan. Since Amaro Montenegro is more bitter than sweet vermouth, I used bourbon instead of the more traditional rye. I'm not sure this was the right decision. I thought the sweetness would go well with the bitterness of the amaro, but I'm afraid the bourbon just gets overpowered. I'm not sure if I should try rye, or just reduce the proportions a bit. I guess that's what experimentation is for!

Small Plates: 04.24.12

New craft cocktail bar, Quench, opening in Rockville. [Washingtonian]

Food truck night in Columbia Heights on Thursday [New Columbia Heights]

All of the best presidents are drinkers. Washington? Distilled whiskey. [Dr. Vino]

Sip and Shop coming to Larry's Lounge on 17th St. [Capital City Craft Co.]

Monday, April 23, 2012

Small Plates: 04.23.12

Taqueria Nacional, currently at 400 N. Capitol NW, will be moving to 14th and T St. [PoP]

Sakuramen, a ramen shop, is open in Adams Morgan [The 42]

A little more than a year after a devastating fire, Banana Leaves reopens [PoP]

Drool over PS7s new pork sticky buns. [Urban Daddy]

Friday, April 20, 2012

Feasting for the Environment

Photo by Mandy, from flickr.
Apparently, going to an all-you-can-eat oyster festival is good for the environment. Poste is hosting a all day oyster festival they've dubbed Oysterstock. Some might wonder whether eating tons of oysters is good for the environment in a day and age when stocks of oysters have been depleted. Apparently, it's very good, according to the City Paper:
Shells from the day's feast will be collected and replanted to help restore the natural oyster population that filters the Chesapeake Bay. "Each shell collected through our Shell Recycling Alliance program can plant 10 new oysters," says Epkins. "So for every oyster someone eats, there's a potential for 20 new oysters to be planted into our bay." In other words, those 4,000 oysters that have been ordered for the event could potentially foster the homes of upwards of 80,000 new ones.
So eat away, guilt free! An oyster saved is apparently an oyster earned.

New Beach Bar coming from Passenger

Photo by Ian Carroll from flickr
According to Prince of Petworth, there's going to be a new bar coming to Mt. Vernon Square. A beach bar:
In May, Brown [Tom owner of The Passenger] plans to unveil the New York Avenue Beach Bar in what is now an empty parking lot adjacent to the Warehouse Theater, around the corner from the Passenger’s front door. He and his partners are bringing “about 80 tons” of sand to fill the 5,500-square-foot space, along with multiple bars, picnic tables, umbrellas, lounge chairs, food trucks and “luxury trailers” containing bathrooms outfitted with running water.
 I honestly don't know what to think. If it were anyone other than Tom Brown, I'd think it sounded horrible. But I love the Passenger, and I really think he could pull it off. If nothing else, I'll definitely give it a shot.

Small Plates: 04.20.12

Photo by nate steiner, from flickr.
Biggest haul of crabs from the Chesapeake in 20 years. [DCist]

What a name! The Pig is opening in Logan Circle on May 14. [PoP]

The sequel to Curbside Cookoff, Trucko de Mayo, comes to the RFK stadium. [WaPo]

Baconfests are apparently spreading across the land, emanating from Chicago. [Atlantic Cities]

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Small Plates: 04.19.12

DC Coast's offerings from the Beacon Bar Martini Contest

Time magazine names José Andrés one of its 100 most influential people in the world. [WaPo]

Adam Lantheaume and Brian Johnson are trying to develop a plastic swizzle stick. [Dash of Bitters]

Italiano Cafe on V St is now closed. Probably due to the bad pizza. [PoP]

Best Bites has a slideshow about the new wine bar in Columbia Heights, Maple. [Washingtonian]

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

5th Annual Beacon Bar Martini Contest

Last night, I attended the Beacon Bar Martini contest with my wife and a friend of ours. As expected, we had a wonderful time. The 'martinis' were of varying qualities, and while some were better than others, there weren't any truly heinous ones. The secret ingredient was coconut vodka from Skyy which combines two of my least favorite things in liquor, vodka and coconut, so I found the cocktails better when they 'balanced' out the coconut flavor. I had four favorites, courtesy of DC Coast, Sky Bar, Occidental, and the Four Seasons. They were all quite good, and encourage me to patronize their establishment. Sadly, the DC Coast table was swamped, so I don't have notes on their cocktail.

Sunny Kim from the Sky Bar at Beacon Hotel did well on her home turf. She had two cocktails, one a chocolate one that pretty much only tasted like chocolate, and a far more successful pomegrate cocktail called "Acapulco is Dangerous." This drink incorporated lemon and açai with the coconut, balancing it out nicely. She also placed coconut jelly and pomegranate, giving some textural play to the drink.

Jo Jo Valenzuela from the Occidental prepared a drink he called "Flight of the Coco Melon." To the coconut vodka, he added some melon water (it looked like cantaloupe), cinnamon tincture, and fresh dill. I asked why he used a cinnamon tincture instead of a pimento dram, and he said it helped keep it light. It was certainly a nice, light and refreshing drink.

My favorite drink of the night was the "Coconut Delight," by Aaron Joseph of the Four Seasons and Sax. This drink used lemon and pineapple to balance out the coconut, and it was one of the few drinks that managed to taste good, and yet still taste a bit like coconut. As a garnish, he used a grilled pineapple. This added some smokiness to the drink, but the pineapple itself was a bit limp, and was big enough to hinder drinking.

The food was fine, but not the focus of the event, though I did really enjoy the shrimp ceviche. Now I can't wait for the competition to come back around next year!

Small Plates: 04.18.12

Discovery Flying Behind the Capitol

Filter Coffeehouse is about to open in Foggy Bottom. [PoP]

Britain now has lickable elevators. Why? [Atlantic Cities]

Back Alley Waffles is now open in Blagden Alley. [PoP]

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Fifth Annual Beacon Bar Martini Contest

Tonight is the 5th annual Beacon Bar Martini Contest. I went last year and had a great time, so I'm going again! It's not actually a martini contest, since no one will be serving martinis, but there will be fun and inventive cocktails from places like Bar Rouge, DC Coast, and Vinoteca. Tickets are $20 and are on sale until 4:30 today.

Martini Madness: Area bartenders shake and stir Best Martinis at Beacon Bar event: Clublife section: Metro Weekly magazine, Washington, DC newspaper

Small Plates: 04.17.12

The Ben and Jerry's Ice Cream Truck is now in DC. I hope it comes to Farragut soon! [DCist]

Flying Dog and BrewDog join forces to offer a 0 IBU IPA. I love collaboration! [WaPo]

With lots of new restaurants opening in Columbia Heights, here's a summary. [The 42]

It was apparently menu Monday yesterday, with 9 new menus to ogle. I'm resisting the urge to head to Adour. [Washingtonian]

Monday, April 16, 2012

This Las Vegas Bus Will Cure Your Hangover (Allegedly)

A more traditional hangover cure. Courtesy of on flickr.
Courtesy of the Atlantic Cities, a new party bus patrols the streets of Las Vegas.
On Saturday, the Hangover Heaven bus took its first spin around the Las Vegas Strip, picking up 10 to 15 bleary, head-clutching invalids and sticking IV needles into their arms, according to a company staffer. These miserable sufferers of veisalgia shelled out $90 for an introductory basic package to $150 for a deluxe package, chock full of vitamins and anti-nausea/inflammatory drugs, then chillaxed in slick lounges or on bunks while the fluids helped flush their pain away.
The doctor (really!) behind this says:
In the end, I feel that partiers, wine aficionados, and club-goers around the world are a medically under-served population.  They have been neglected for a long time by the medical community. Billions of dollars are poured into medical research every year to treat a variety of conditions, but hangovers receive little attention. Hangover Heaven is here to fill that void.
Finally, somebody who cares about a real medical issue; here's to hoping one comes to DC soon. Prost!

This Las Vegas Bus Will Cure Your Hangover (Allegedly)

Small Plates: 04.16.12

Rooftop deck at Mellow Mushroom, Adams Morgan

Mintwood Place now has brunch from 10:30 to 3, starting right when I get done at Stroga... [Washingtonian]

The Speakista started his series "Negroni Nirvana," covering a host of variant Negronis. [theSpeakista]

Brooklyn jumps the shark with its specialty mayonnaise store, though apparently it's tasty. [Atlantic Cities]

The has a useful article on how to infuse your own spirits. Try rum and Earl Grey! [The]

Friday, April 13, 2012

Small Plates: 04.13.12

Picture of Corned Beef and Pastrami courtesy of Singer.
Chris Shott is soooo sick of the pizza craze right now. [Young & Hungry]

 Showtime Lounge (motto: Not a strip club!) is coming to Bloomingdale. [PoP]

Thrillist has an article on Chez Billy; back patio to be open soon. [Thrillist]

Singer's Mostly Jewish Delicatessen, for when you just can't do without bacon. [Washingtonian]

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Small Plates: 04.12.12

Lemon & honey flavored chicken. Recipe here.

After many travails, Shaw's Tavern might finally be serving drinks this weekend. [Young & Hungry]

Maryland now allows corkage at restaurants. No min or max fee. [WaPo]

Eagle Restaurant becomes Northern Restaurant, still serves Ethiopian food. [PoP]

Pre-bottled cocktails are apparently the new hot thing. Who knew? [Tasting Table]

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Free Beer Tomorrow at 901 Restaurant to Kick Off Summer

Photo by Alexa Clark, on flickr.
Tomorrow, 901 Lounge is offering a complimentary pint to celebrate the opening of its celebrated patio. Capital Cooking writes:
Only four stops to Nats Stadium on the Green line via Chinatown Metro, the double happy hour is great for both the pre and post game celebrations.  The happy hours feature both food and drink specials—this hot spot will be a great place to cool down.
I enjoyed 901 last time I was there, so if you're working shorter hours than I am, it may be worth dropping by.

Via Capital Cooking with Lauren DeSantis:

Small Plates: 04.11.12

 A unique perspective on Bar Pilar's lard fried chicken, via Young & Hungry. [FNB]

Pizza with a lard crust? With little crispy lardons? Yes, please! [Serious Eats]

For Happy Hour, Jessica Voelker suggests The Source. Three Izakaya dishes for $20.12 [Washingtonian]

Sorriso Cafe e Gelateria this much closer to opening: they're now hiring. [PoP]

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Aging Wines

In what is perhaps a rare gesture for me, I am the first to admit I don't know much about aging wines. But it's fun. I jumped aboard the bandwagon a few years ago, when I found that aging a wine from the Brandywine valley for just a year made a noticeable improvement. Since then, I've kept a wine fridge full of wines to age for a term between a year or two to 10 years (an anniversary present for my wife. Most of our presents are ones we enjoy together).

It's been a while since we've had one of our aged wines, so when the bottle we got from Ace Beverage was vinegar, we decided to open one up, a 2007 Cotes du Rhone. It ended up pretty fruity overall. The wine itself is dry, but there's a wonderful fruity finish that lasts fairly long. It was, perhaps, not the best wine to pair with our bison steaks, but it held up to them fairly well. You can see our sticky note in the picture; that's how we remind ourselves about how long we want to age. Since it's based just on random internet people most of the time, we generally feel free to ignore it when we want. We've always enjoyed the results we've had, and look forward to more aged wines in the future.

Small Plates: 04.10.12

Woodley Park
Is New Belgium opening a storefront on 14th St? I hope so! [Borderstan]

Ari Gejdenson, formerly of Acqua al 2, will be taking over the HR-57 space from the Hilton brothers. [PoP]

Thor Cheston to open Right Proper in Shaw or Bloomingdale, wants to sell growlers. [Young & Hungry]

Because this neighborhood needed more Ethiopian restaurants, Kokeb. [PoP]

Monday, April 9, 2012

Utopia Closing for a Year and a Half.

Utopia restaurant. Photo by M. V. Jantzen on flickr.
Via Prince of Petworth, Utopia closed last Friday and will be closed for the next eighteen months:

I also passed Utopia at 1418 U St, NW on Sunday. I spoke with the folks at Stem two storefronts down. They said that both Stem and DC Noodles would also be closing soon (he didn’t have an exact date of when) for at least a year while construction of the nearby Louis at 14th development takes place. In the meantime Stem is having a clearance sale on all of their inventory.
Hopefully the food will be a bit better when it opens.

Small Plates: 04.09.12

Photo by Meryddian on flickr.
For when you want to take wine hiking, but are too weak to carry a bottle, there's a pouch. [Serious Eats]

Despite growth, craft beer is just 6% of the domestic market. In Portland, it's 30%. [The Dish]

It's been confirmed! Taylor Gourmet is coming to south Dupont, next to the Greek Deli. [PoP]

Best gas station in the world? Chris Shott analyzes the Fast Gourmet Chivito. [Young & Hungry]

Friday, April 6, 2012

Small Plates: 04.06.12

CoCo Salad
With Hamilton and Black & Orange cutting hours, late night dining in DC is done. [Young & Hungry]

Pizzarro is open at 467 Florida Ave NW. They have pizza, calzones, and such. [PoP]

PORCs new restaurant will be called Kangaroo Boxing Club, will not feature kangaroos or boxing. [New Columbia Heights]

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Almost Alcoholic? The Atlantic thinks we all are.

Photo by Michal Sänger, from flickr.
The Atlantic posted an article recently purportedly suggesting a revision in how we classify alcoholics to recognize a spectrum of alcohol abuse. The old, strict definition of alcoholism relied on physical dependence to make its diagnosis. If you didn't need alcohol in your system all the time, you weren't an alcoholic. Later, alcohol abuse was added to the DSM, defined as having had an episode where you suffered serious consequences due to your drinking, such as a DUI or losing a job. Joseph Nowinsky and Robert Doyle suggest that rather than a bi- or trivalent notion of alcoholism, we need to consider it more as a spectrum.
We believe that, as opposed to thinking only those men and women whose drinking has progressed to the point where they need help, that many people in the mid-range may also be suffering as a result of drinking. That suffering may take the form of declining job performance and declining health so that the individual does not yet recognize it as being related to drinking.
Well and good. There's undoubtedly a spectrum of alcohol abuse and dependence, and ill effects can occur long before they become noticeable. So guidance for doctors and psychologists that doesn't rely on an overly simplistic schema can be helpful. But Nowinsky and Doyle's list of symptoms seems over-broad. They list:
  • You drink to relieve stress.
  • You often drink alone.
  • You look forward to drinking.
  • Your drinking may be related to one or more health problems.
  • You drink to relieve boredom or loneliness.
  • You sometimes drive after drinking.
  • You drink to maintain a "buzz."
  • Your performance at work is not what it used to be.
  • You aren't comfortable in social situations without drinking.
  • You find that drinking helps you overcome your shyness. 
This seems excessive to say the least. Most of these are signs, not of alcohol abuse, but of alcohol enjoyment. There's a certain line of thinking that tends to believe that any drinking is pathological; these are the same people that say that splitting a couple bottles of wine with your wife over a five course meal is binge drinking, or that a glass of wine during pregnancy makes you a bad mother. No doubt if drinking is your only stress-reliever or if you're driving after putting down a fifth, you have a problem, but the authors seem to think that if any of these apply to you, you're almost an alcoholic.

The key line is this one: "That research has resulted in a number of strategies that individuals can use to either stop or reduce their drinking." It's a problem if you see the only goal of your research as reducing or stopping drinking, rather than accurately measuring when it's a difficulty rather than a hobby.

Are You Almost Alcoholic? Taking a New Look at an Old Problem - The Atlantic


Pepe is the hottest new food truck, featuring Spanish inspired sandwiches from José Andrés. I've been there three times now, and each time was great. The first thing I had there was the Butifarra burger, which consisted of aioli, pork sausage, and brava sauce. The sausage patty was great with a good spiciness to it, and the sauce was so amazing I wanted to lick the wrapper. The Pepito de Ibérico was quite good. For $20, you get Ibérico pork and Serrano ham, with roasted green peppers and aioli. I said it was good, but at that price, I want my food to be heavenly, and the Pepito de Ibérico was not. It was too salty, and the sauce overwhelmed the flavor of the meat. The Pepito de Ternera was my favorite so far. It's a seared beef tenderloin sandwich with  piquillo pepper confit and blue cheese. The tenderloin has a strong enough flavor to balance the sauce, and is exquisitely tender. I'll definitely be back, but I'll probably not bother with the $20 sandwich again.

Earth Day Oysterstock

On April 22nd, Poste Moderne Brasserie in the Hotel Monaco is celebrating Earth Day with Oysterstock, a celebration of oysters, clams, local wine and cocktails, set to music in their fabulous courtyard. We can't wait! Details below, h/t Prince of Petworth.
This year, Poste and Chef Dennis Marron are celebrating Earth Day with a brand new courtyard event – ‘Oysterstock.’ The all-day celebration will feature Rappahannock and War Shore oysters, a collaborative lamb and clams dish with Rappahannock Oysters and Border Springs Lamb, and picnic fare from the Poste kitchen including house-made grilled sausages, coleslaw, and mac’ and cheese. Local beers from DC Brau and Port City Brewery will be served, alongside local Virginia wines from Breaux Vineyards and Catoctin Creek Distillery. Live entertainment from three local bands will also be provided. The cost of the all-inclusive event is $75, with proceeds going to the Oyster Recovery Partnership. Tickets can be purchased here.

Small Plates: 04.05.12

Despite winning "Best New Restaurant," the food at Blue 44 is boring. Like Chevy Chase. [Young & Hungry]

Maple will serve Italian and American food, with a focus on panini and bruschetta. [New Columbia Heights]

Rumor mill Prince of Petworth suggests that maybe, just maybe, Capital City Diner might be moving to Petworth/Columbia Heights. [PoP]

Steak and Whiskey's favorite food truck, Basil Thyme, got towed the other night. [DCist]

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Taste of the Nation in review

My wife and I went to Taste of the Nation on Monday (preview here). I didn't take notes, so I'm not going to do a full overview, but we had a great time and can't wait to go again next year. The food was great. It was a bit heavy on the seafood, but there was enough non-seafood dishes that you wouldn't go hungry if you didn't care for oysters or mussels. Or scallops in a saffron calamari broth (our favorite dish). The drinks were good too, though I was less impressed with them in general than with the food. Some pictures below.
Dean Gold with his tasty testa.

The tables were arranged in four-somes.

The space at the National Building Museum is incredible.

I forget what this was called, but it was fun, and not as messy as you'd expect.

Hanging around outside.

ADI Awards

The American Distillery Institute just released the results of its sixth annual "Judging of Artisan American Spirits." It's an interesting list, divided between rum, whiskey, and brandy, with such categories as "non-typical whiskey" (won by Balcones' '1' Texas Single Malt) and "hopped whiskey" (must find one!). I'm not sure I find the results interesting as such, but these sorts of contests can be a good guide to spirits to look for the next time you're shopping.

h/t Rowley's Whiskey Forge

Small Plates: 04.04.12

American Art Museum, looking south
There's a pizza expo? Why did no one tell me there was a pizza expo? [Serious Eats]

Best Bites has a list of 31 places doing a special Easter brunch; for me, it's a list of places to avoid. [Washingtonian]

More rumors about ACKC space: was Whoopie Pies, now it's supposed to be American tapas. [PoP]

Sign this! A petition to allow brewpubs to sell growlers. I still miss buying them at D'Vines. []

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Corpse Reviver

One of the best categories of cocktail is the 'hair of the dog': a cocktail designed for the morning after conspicuous consumption of alcohol. Most popular these days seems to be the Bloody Mary and its variants. I'm not sure Mimosas count as hair of the dog, but they're also very popular in the morning. Fans of older cocktails tend to turn to either the Zombie or the Corpse Reviver #2. Less well known is the Corpse Reviver #1.

The Corpse Reviver is composed of two parts cognac, one part Calvados, and one part sweet vermouth. At the moment, I have neither Calvados, nor its rustic cousin Applejack. What I do have is crabapple infused vodka. A while back I accidentally bought crabapples, thinking they were kumquats. (Don't ask. I was tired.) Looking around the internets for something to do with crabapples, I found a recipe for crabapple schnapps, and so there we were.

The drink has a nice, subtle apple flavor from the crabapple vodka, but it's by no means overwhelming. There's a fair amount of sweetness in the drink, but it's more than balanced out by the cognac. Some form of bitters wouldn't hurt; I've been increasingly using burlesque bitters in everything but Peychaud's might be a better choice in this. A lemon twist would not be out of place.

Small Plates: 04.03.12

Lamb Fettuccine from Ulah Bistro 
The original McNasty's is in Ireland, and apparently "very clean." [PoP]

Best Bites has a look at La Forchetta, a new pizza place in Tenleytown that like to talk smack about 2 Amy's [Best Bites]

Dulcinea opens on Georgia Ave, serving Mexican and Mediterranean food, but mostly Mexican. [New Columbia Heights]

Savor tickets go on sale Thursday. Don't dawdle; they sold out in 10 minutes last year. [Washington Post]

Monday, April 2, 2012

Pre-Race Carb Loading with Homemade Pasta Sauce

Photo by Nadi0, from flickr.
Chris and I have the Cherry Blossom 10 miler coming up tomorrow morning, which means an excuse for carb loading! And if there's anything I love as much as pasta, it's making pasta sauce. Now, I'm not generally opposed to buying prepared foods, but one thing I've never understood is the point of pasta sauce out of a jar. Homemade pasta sauce is so easy, almost as fast, fun to experiment with, and always so much tastier. It's also really forgiving; the recipe I'm about to post isn't really a recipe, as I didn't measure anything, and did quite a bit of improvising. These are the ingredients that ended up going into the sauce:

Several garlic cloves, sliced
Part of an onion, diced,
One Habanero pepper, de-seeded and diced
One pint of grape tomatoes
Chicken broth
Dry vermouth (white wine would also work, but we didn't have any)
Fresh rosemary
Fresh mint
Dried basil (fresh would be better, but I forgot to pick some up at the store)
Sliced olives
Couple pinches of sugar

I started by sauteing the garlic, onion, and habanero over medium heat until everything was soft, about 5 minutes or so. I then dumped in the grape tomatoes, and let them sit until the outsides started to caramelize and they started to burst. This takes about 10-12 minutes, and I stirred occasionally to keep the onions and garlic from burning. You don't want to stir too often though, or you'll keep the tomatoes from charring. Once a few had burst on their own, I used a potato masher to mash the rest of them just a bit. I prefer a chunky sauce, so I still wanted some large tomato chunks. I mixed in a bit of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes, and then I added some chicken broth and dry vermouth, along with the herbs and olives. I kept the heat pretty high to reduce the liquid, and once the liquid was an appropriate consistency, I reduced the heat to low until I was ready to use it. As simple as can be!

This is a great base recipe, because it's so easy to adjust. The addition of olives was a last-second decision because I thought they sounded good, but they could easily be left out. Chicken broth could be replaced with vegetable broth, water, or extra wine, though you'd want to add a bit of salt if you don't use any broth. Mint could be left out, oregano could be added. I also think roasted red peppers would be a nice addition, for a bit of smokey flavor. I strongly prefer bite-sized tomatoes, such as grape or cherry, because keeping them whole for a bit allows the outside to get a bit caramelized, but if that doesn't matter to you, then a can of diced tomatoes would do. For a smooth sauce, you could run everything in the blender before adding to pasta. The list of possible additions or substitutions goes on and on; pasta sauce is extremely forgiving, so it's a great way for both new and experienced cooks to get some practice improvising in the kitchen.

Small Plates: 04.02.12

Topaz Bar offers election themed cocktails. On The Plate, they're featuring the Santorum. [The Plate]

Best Bites finally crowns a winner in their Wing Wars. Congratulations to Boundary Stone! [Washingtonian]

Solly's Bar expansion will feature sandwiches from "Cuzn Mike" along with house-made chips. [PoP]

Table, a casual French restaurant, is coming to 9th and N, sans menus! [Washingtonian]